Women’s Economic Stability Initiative (WESI)/Women's Economic Stability Partnership (WESP)
The Women’s Economic Stability Initiative arose out of a decision on the part of the Trio Foundation of St. Louis to identify an urgent issue in the St. Louis community. The Foundation planned to address the problem through a multi-year collaboration with a local agency with a focus on economic empowerment for single, low-income mothers. The Foundation spent two years learning about the issues that female heads of households face in achieving economic stability and determining the best way the Foundation could make a difference in this area. The research revealed the difficulties faced by these women in achieving financial stability when faced with the conflicting demands of pursuing an education while simultaneously dealing with the issues of childcare, housing, transportation, educational costs and often debt reduction.
The Foundation set aside funds over five years for an ongoing effort in this area. In early 2007 Trio issued a request for proposals to find an agency to implement the initiative and in May 2007 awarded the grant to the YWCA of Metro St. Louis to implement the project. Trio’s vision was to fund and collaborate with an agency on a program that would support ten low-income women who were pursuing non-traditional careers that would provide higher wages and economic stability for their families. Trio funds were intended to permit the agency to flexibly address obstacles to the completion of the women’s educational and career goals.
The Initiative has benefited from a number of people’s assistance, including a community Advisory Council which has met annually to review the program and offer insights as it progressed. In addition, we engaged an evaluator, LS Associates, from the beginning to help develop the goals, outcomes and methods for achieving success, and continued the evaluation process throughout the project. Key Findings and a full report on the program can be found here: Women's Economic Stability Report.
In January 2011, The Gateway Center for Giving awarded its “Giving is Ongoing” award to the Trio Foundation of St. Louis for the Women’s Economic Stability Initiative (http://blog.centerforgiving.org/?s=eulonda ). We were pleased to receive this award, but the women in the program are the ones who should be honored. We have consistently admired their commitment to their children and careers and have been privileged to play a part in helping the women achieve their dreams and secure their futures. One of the participants, Jennifer Wall, describes the impact the program had on her in this video http://www.youtube.com/user/ywcastl.
The program was so successful that the YWCA has institutionalized it as part of their regular services, and in early 2014 nine women started class two of the Women's Economic Stability Partnership. WESP, the new iteration of WESI, is being supported by the United Way, Trio Foundation of St. Louis, as well as several other foundations and YWCA board members.
WWF Fistula Center in Danja, Niger (www.worldwidefistulafund.org)
In 2010, the Trio Foundation of St. Louis provided funding to The Worldwide Fistula Fund (WFF) to build a Fistula Repair Center in Danja, Niger. WFF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in St. Louis, MO and was founded in 1995 to support international medical education and research on the problem of obstetrical trauma in the developing world. The WFF Fistula Center opened in February 2012. This 22,000 square foot facility built in the world’s poorest country is spectacular and will be of immense benefit to the women of Niger and, ultimately, to Africa. The hospital will provide treatment for 2,500 women within the first five years of operation, as well as prevention and rehabilitation programs and surgical training for local surgeons and staff members.
Tower Grove Park East Playground
In 2009 the Trio Foundation of St. Louis made a grant to Tower Grove Park to renovate its East Playground, including bringing it to ADA accessibility code, in memory of our founder Dorothy R. Moog.
Dorothy Moog had high regards for Tower Grove Park, which she demonstrated in 2003 when she and the Trio Foundation of St. Louis both provided funding for renovation and upgrade to ADA accessibility regulations for the West Playground. This was particularly significant because overall, Mrs. Moog kept her giving very separate from the Trio Foundation. In fact, the gift to the West Playground was the only project that Mrs. Moog and the Trio Foundation explicitly funded together.
When Tower Grove Park approached Trio for funding similar renovations and upgrades on the East Playground, the Trio Board knew that the project would be a perfect way to remember Mrs. Moog. As her son Jim Moog said at the playground dedication, “There is a connection to the sentiment that inspired Henry Shaw to enrich our city and its residents with his magnificent Garden and Tower Grove Park--His purpose was not to create a grandiose monument, but to make people’s lives more rewarding by allowing them to experience the simple pleasures of nature.” We hope the playground will provide many hours of fun and serve as a reminder of Dorothy Moog and her great fondness for children, play, accessibility, and the natural beauty that this park provides to our city.